Military News

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

With Encouragement From Hagel, Cape Ray Leaves for Syria Mission



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2014 – The container ship M/V Cape Ray and its crew deployed from Portsmouth, Va., yesterday with a message of encouragement from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

M/V Cape Ray is the Defense Department’s primary contribution toward international efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons material program, Pentagon officials said in a statement announcing the deployment.

“As you all know, your task will not be easy,” Hagel said in a message to the Cape Ray crew. “Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.

“You are ready,” the secretary continued. “We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you. On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God bless you all.”

Hundreds of government and contract personnel have worked over the last several months to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using hydrolysis technology.

“The United States remains committed to ensuring its neutralization of Syria's chemical materials prioritizes the safety of people, protects the environment, follows verification procedures of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and with applicable standards,” officials said in the announcement. “All waste from the hydrolysis process on M/V Cape Ray will be safely and properly disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the OPCW. No hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air. M/V Cape Ray will comply with all applicable international laws, regulations and treaties.”

The Assad regime in Syria is responsible for transporting the chemical materials safely to facilitate their removal for destruction, officials said.

“The international community is poised to meet the milestones set forth by the OPCW, including the June 30 target date for the total destruction of Syria's chemical weapons materials, officials added. “The United States joins the OPCW and the United Nations in calling on the Assad regime to intensify its efforts to ensure its international obligations and commitment are met so these materials may be removed from Syria as quickly and safely as possible,” the statement concluded.

Dempsey to Evaluate Profession of Arms Campaign



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2014 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believes enough time has passed to evaluate the effectiveness of his campaign to highlight the importance of the profession of arms.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey began his campaign to highlight the profession even before he became chairman, beginning the effort when he served as the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

The general was ahead of the power curve in looking to the profession. In 2012, he said he wanted to "assess how 10 years of conflict have affected us as we conduct transitions in our current wars, face resource constraints and get leaner as a force."

The chairman called on members of the profession to "institutionalize what we've learned."

Dempsey said he views the campaign in military terms -- a campaign in the military vocabulary implies a series of actions, all intended to converge on a desired outcome.

"The desired outcome in this campaign is that the force rekindles its understanding and resolve as a profession and then recommits itself to that which makes us a profession: our unique skills and attributes, commitment to continuing education, and the agreement to live to a specific set of values," he said during an interview on his way back from NATO meetings in Belgium last week.

Since he became chairman in September 2011, Dempsey has been refreshing U.S. joint professional military education curriculum. He also is working with service leaders to rewrite their professional military education curricula.

"We've reached out into academia for assistance in making these adjustments in the curriculum," he said. "These changes are not only in schools, but in courses we provide for rising general and flag officers -- Capstone and Pinnacle." The profession of arms always is a topic of conversation when he meets with the chiefs of staff, Dempsey added.

The effort includes training programs for the staffs of senior leaders so the staffs are aware of and empowered to help senior leaders, he said. Staff assistance visits further the effort. Training teams have visited U.S. Southern Command, and will move to other commands shortly. The team members are experts in policy, legal issues and ethical issues, and they spend a week at the combatant commands working with the staffs. They take a look at all aspects of senior leader support, from communications to transportation to gifts.

Now is a good time to examine the effort, the chairman said.

"We embarked on this about two and a half years ago, and we're at the point where it is possible to review our progress," he said. He said he will look at the number of incidents or problems with senior leaders. He also will measure the results of assistance visits, and will look at the results of command climate surveys.

"We put a spotlight on what it means to be a professional in a way that didn't exist five years ago," he said. "These initiatives that we are trying to knit together have much greater interest, and therefore much greater impact, today than five years ago."

Military personnel are serious about studying the profession, the general said. "When we first started down this path there wasn't active resistance that we should, after 20 years, take a good hard look at our profession," he added. "But there was an undertone of 'It's really not broke, so let's not fix it.' There wasn't universal acknowledgement that it was time to look at it.

"So perhaps I would suggest that there wasn't universal acknowledgement that it was time to relook what it means to be a professional," he continued. "I would say we've overcome that."

Yellow Ribbon program connects Airmen with resources

by 2nd Lt. Brooks Payette
157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


1/24/2014 - PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H.  -- Strength and support in numbers.

That was the consensus following a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event specifically designed to connect more than two-dozen resources with deploying Airmen and their family members.

Airman 1st Class Kirsten Arends, a material handler with the 157th Logistics Readiness Squadron, was one of three-dozen Airmen who attended the event held at the 157th Air Refueling Wing on January 5. Arends noted several benefits of the all-day event in preparing for her first deployment.

"This yellow ribbon event surpassed any of my expectations," said Arends, the 2013 Airmen of the Year here at Pease. "This event not only provided information about deployments and resources but was also a great networking tool."

The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to provide information, services, referrals, and proactive outreach programs to servicemembers and families of the National Guard and Reserves throughout all phases of the deployment cycle. Though all servicemembers are required to participate in the program pre and post deployment, the requirement can also be met through individual out processing. The Jan. 5 event was the first group coordinated training by the 157th since May 2011.

"The group events correlate to deployments more effectively," said Karen Morton-Clark, the NHANG Yellow Ribbon Program coordinator. "Servicemembers and their families can interact directly with valuable resources."

Representatives from nearly 30 different organizations were present to meet with servicemembers and their families, including the Red Cross, Easter Seals, Military OneSource, Operation Military Kids and more. The plethora of resources are aimed at meeting the challenges of deployments for servicemembers and their families such as financial burdens, mental health issues, legal services, health care, peer support services and employment opportunities.

The comprehensive event was beneficial according to Civil Engineer Operations Manager Master Sgt. Rob Wolfgram, whose wife Jenette also attended the event.

"She was overwhelmed to find out about all the support that was available to her and my family while I am away," said Wolfgram "In this large gathering you have the opportunity to talk with more people and gather more information than you would have the time to do on your own."

Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager Bonnie Rice said it is vital to get the information to family members to mitigate potential situations and ensure Airmen can focus on the mission while deployed. The event serves as a fire hose of information with members encouraged to contact Rice, Morton-Clark, or the Chaplain's office for further details.

"We make sure to bring in resources so that they know about the resources that are there to support them," said Rice. "We want them to know it is OK to step up and ask for [help]."

In addition to providing an array of resources to Airmen, the event also featured a presentation on resiliency training from Christopher Poe of Techwerks.

Poe, a master sergeant in the Army Reserve, said the resiliency training is a newer concept to the Department of Defense. Techwerks was previously contracted to teach resiliency courses before the Air Force began training its own members as instructors. Poe shared the lessons he learned from previous deployments. He encouraged all military members to attend a resiliency course when the opportunity is provided.

"It is a stressful time so there is no better place for having a set of skills that can help not just the Airmen, but also the families get through that trying time," said Poe. "They can learn to be strong. Everyone goes through tough times in their life and that challenge can be overcome with the skills we teach."

Poe's presentation struck a chord for Arends.

"The resilience training was just outstanding and the resource information that I took away from this event is invaluable," said Arends. "I now have the tools to make my deployment much more enjoyable and less stressful in terms of transitioning both overseas and reintegrating back home."

Dyess receives first operational IBS-upgraded B-1

by Senior Airman Kia Atkins
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


1/24/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The first operational B-1B Lancer with the Integrated Battle Station upgrade, landed here Jan. 21 with a ceremony celebrating its arrival Jan. 24.

The IBS is a combination of three different upgrades, which include a Fully Integrated Data Link, a Vertical Situation Display Upgrade and a Central Integrated System Upgrade.

During the ceremony Brig. Gen. Glen VanHerck, 7th Bomb Wing commander, spoke about the benefits of the newly upgraded systems.

"This will be a platform that will take us to the next generation of long-range strike capability," said VanHerck. "Increased situational awareness for our pilots, a more reliable and supportable cockpit, user-friendly systems that will help our maintainers and the ability to conduct more effective training and testing in the future are just some of those impacts."

The FIDL is a modern data link communication network that allows real-time communication with many other aircraft, ground stations and allied forces. The VSDU replaced the older VSDs with more reliable equipment that show more information faster and with more options to improve in-flight efficiency. The CITS modernized the old Light Emitting Diode display computers that are used by flight and ground support personnel to identify and troubleshoot B-1 system anomalies.

"Integration into the data link environment and the increased maintainability, as well as the new computers and displays are capable of showing a better picture of the battlespace with more advanced graphics will enable the B-1 to be a force for decades to come," said Maj. Michael Jungquist, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron software Block 16 project officer.

These new upgrades to the B-1B will also allow the aircraft to work more effectively with other joint and coalition forces.

"Real-time communication networks will allow for immediate mission planning and much quicker in-flight target changes. As the threat changes, so can the coordination with allied forces, which enables the B-1 to reach and target the new strike location," said Master Sgt. Eric Dassinger, 7th Maintenance Group wing avionics manager. "The Link-16 network we can connect to through FIDL is already being used on many other platforms, so integration with allied forces is nearly seamless. Full battlefield communication and information exchanges will greatly improve mission planning and provide real-time mission feedback."

The three upgrades that comprise the IBS will potentially eliminate at least 30 minutes per ground test -diagnostic system checks that are similar to in-flight checks, and reducing the risk of human error from having to key in each test function.

"Aircrew will get the new screens and updated instrumentation in the front and aft stations where they will be able to adjust the information shown to cater to the mission at hand," Dassinger said. "Maintainers will benefit from the CITS upgrade by being able to monitor more system diagnostics than before, which in turn, will shorten troubleshooting time. Also full complements of ground test functions are stored within the CITS; this means not having to punch in the entire test key for key. It also reduces human error from having to key in each test function since they are pre-built."

Upgrades such as these enable the B-1 to grow and keep pace with newer platforms that the aircraft may be working with.

"There are many growth capabilities already built into the system," Dassinger said. "As technology changes, this new system will be able to adapt more easily. More reliable parts mean the Air Force can save money and roll it into new programs and updates."

With the new IBS upgrade to the B-1, the mission capabilities of the aircraft could evolve as new mission sets arise in the theater of operations.

"Once the program is in full swing and we have a larger inventory of IBS equipped aircraft, I could see the operations tempo increasing," Dassinger said. "When you add up all that the aircraft is already capable of, and then add the reliability and new communication features; everyone is going to want the B-1 protecting their ground forces and providing directed firepower across the globe."

Although Dyess is the first base to receive the first operational IBS upgraded B-1, the upgrade program is scheduled to continue on through 2019, with Ellsworth Air Force Base also receiving upgraded aircraft.

F-22 demo pilot practices at Tyndall

by Ashley M. Wright
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


1/27/2014 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- While snow fell on the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team's headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va., the team's pilot took to the skies over the Florida panhandle to practice the routine for the upcoming air show season.

"I love flying here," said Capt. John Cummings, F-22 Demonstration pilot who was stationed at Tyndall for F-15 Eagle and F-22 pilot training. "This is where I learned to fly fighter aircraft."

While Cummings will do most of his training at Langley, Air Force Instructions require him to make three off-station practice flights of the routine before performing at an air show.

The flights took place on Jan. 22 and 23. The aircraft was part of the 43rd Fighter Squadron here, which is responsible for training pilots on the F-22.

"The 43rd FS provided the jets for the practice," said Capt. Daniel Dickinson, 43rdFS F-22 instructor and Bravo Flight commander. "We were glad to help out in any way we could."

The F-22 team consists of 11 Airmen that work a regular job during the week and air shows on the weekends. However, there is no dedicated F-22 that follows the crew to the air shows. As the Air Force continues to face significant fiscal constraints; everything that can be done to trim costs is being done. Because of this, the aircraft comes from the closest F-22 base, Cummings said.

"The entire Raptor Nation supports the demo," the Wisconsin native said.

However, aerial acrobatics in the world's most advanced operational fighter jet is not where the captain will spend a majority of his time.

"Twenty percent of the job is flying," said Cummings, who has been the demonstration pilot for two months. "The cool part will be going out into the community."

Along with performing air shows around the country, the team also visits local hospitals, schools and works with organizations like the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project.

While Cummings continues to settle into his new role, he remains optimistic about the responsibility of showcasing the Air Force's premier fighter.

"I'm looking forward to the great opportunity to demonstrate what we do," he said.

Face of Defense: Marine Continues Family’s Military Legacy



By Marine Corps Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif., Jan. 28, 2014 – Marine Corps Pfc. Frederick M. Padilla Jr. is following in his father’s footsteps while finding his own path.

Padilla grew up in the military lifestyle. His grandfather was a career Air Force officer, his uncle is a retired Air Force major general, and his father is Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, director of operations, plans, policies and operations at Headquarters Marine Corps, until now the only Marine in the family.

However, even with his family’s military background, Padilla did not want to join the military at first.

“I wanted to see if I could do something other than what my dad did,” said 22-year-old Padilla, assigned to Platoon 1046, Company C, 1st Recruit Training Battalion here.

Padilla said he began boxing at the age of 13 as a hobby, but wanted to try his luck at becoming a professional boxer. But he soon realized he was not going to earn a living boxing, he said, and decided to make a career change.

“My father and my uncle told me to give the military a shot,” said Padilla, a native of Oxnard, Calif. “I was going the wrong path and not making anything out of myself.”

He met with a recruiter and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Padilla shipped off to recruit training Oct. 28 to follow in his father’s footsteps, an enormous task by any measure.

“It definitely sets the bar high, because he is passionate and loves the Marine Corps,” Padilla said. “I admire that, and it gives me someone to emulate.”

For Padilla, recruit training was an adjustment. Surrounded by younger recruits who talked about their families and hometowns, he said, he wanted to create his own luck -- he did not want anyone to know his father’s rank, and he did not want to give anyone any reason to treat him differently.

“He worked his way up to become one of the squad leaders, but nobody knew who his father was,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Jason A. Sabater, senior drill instructor, a native of Vallejo, Calif. “He wants to create his own path, and that says a lot about him.”

During recruit training, Padilla said, his father sent him encouraging messages of pride and guidance. “I want to be a good man, a good citizen and a good Marine like my father,” he said. “He is someone I can go to for guidance in any matter, because he is my father and fellow Marine.”

Sabater said Padilla is a natural leader, not only because of his initiative and decisiveness, but also because of the foundation that comes along with being the son of a Marine.

“There is definitely pressure, but I like it, because it keeps me straight. It’s not just me messing up -- I’m a direct reflection of him,” Padilla said. “I have his name, and I want to make him proud but, at the same time, I want to make my own path.”

Padilla will attend the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to become an infantryman. He said he also plans to start college once his training is complete and follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I want to become an officer and be like him,” he said. “He is not only a great Marine, but also a great father.”

Super Bowl Preparations Include Air Defense Exercise



From a Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region News Release

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jan. 28, 2014 – Fighter jets from the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, known as CONR, along with the command’s interagency partners, are preparing to protect the skies around MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, the site of Feb. 2’s Super Bowl XLVII.

Air defense exercise flights in the area of the stadium are expected to begin around 4:30 a.m. EST tomorrow and to continue for about an hour, officials said.

Exercise Amalgam Virgo 14-01, a NORAD air-defense exercise, will be conducted in the greater East Rutherford area so interagency partners can practice procedures for responding to airspace violations. The exercise is a series of training flights in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, and the CONR’s Eastern Air Defense Sector.

“There are a lot of interagency partners involved in the air defense of this year’s Super Bowl,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. William H. Etter, CONR commander. “With multiple agencies involved, coordination between all air-defense partners is crucial. This exercise allows all of the interagency partners to come together before the game to hone their air defense skills and ensure communications are working properly.”

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability, officials said. CONR has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s ongoing response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they noted.

“On Super Bowl Sunday and every other day, the men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region are on watch, making sure our skies are safe,” Etter said.

Since 9/11, CONR fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft for Operation Noble Eagle, officials said.